Someone once said, “Love does not consist of just gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction. And for that, you need to open the lines of communication.” That’s difficult when you have communication differences present in your marriage.
This week, we’d like to address opening the lines of communication for you and your spouse a little bit wider. To do this we will address both husbands and wives. I (Steve) will address a marriage tip for husbands. And Cindy will address a marriage tip for the wives.
Marriage Tip for the Ladies:
“WARNING: Your husband can love you and still not have a clue about what you need!” This marriage tip actually came from author Sandra Aldrich. But I’d like to expand upon it a bit because I’ve found it to be so true.
What’s amazing to me is that Steve and I have been married for over 45 years and yet my wonderful husband is still clueless as to what I need in certain situations. And while it perplexes and frustrates me when this happens, I’ve come to the same conclusion as Sandra Aldrich. “A relationship can die while we wait for our spouse to learn to read our mind!”
She goes on to write:
“Women keep having this idea that if we’re truly loved our minds will be read and every little wish we have will be anticipated. That’s too heavy of a burden to put on another human being.”
The simple fact is that men and women look at things from different angles and that complicates matters. An example of this is when we would have guests coming over. I used to get perturbed when Steve wouldn’t help get things ready with the same effort I would put into it (after-all they’re his guests too).
We’d often start out at the same pace but eventually he’d stop. He’d tell me that “everything looked done” to him. He figured if things looked good enough to him it was fine to stop. If I wanted to do more than what he deemed necessary, it was my decision.
But they sure didn’t look done from MY PERSPECTIVE. It was still “obvious” to me that there was more to do. When I’d see Steve sit down as if done, I’d get angry that he would think of leaving the rest for me to do alone.
He’d be angry at me for wanting him to do more than he thought needed to be done from HIS PERSPECTIVE. Our differing perspectives brought differing expectations, which muddied up the lines of communication between us, causing us to be angry and resentful towards each other. It was a real problem.
Frustrating Communication Differences
After years of frustration, we’ve finally figured out how to handle this situation. We’ve chosen to tackle things as a team in agreement where I’m the “task manager” in this particular area of our lives because of my “homemaking skills.” I survey what needs to be done and write a running list, which helps my husband. I don’t just assume he knows what needs to be done anymore (eliminating mind-reading).
We then tackle the list together as a team. (I’m also learning to ease up on expecting more to be done than we both agree upon.)
Know Each Other’s Skill Sets
I’ve also learned not to ask Steve to do things that take “fussing over.” He’s not patient or talented at doing fussy work. We both become frustrated with the results. Steve is best at tackling the bigger, general type of cleaning, with me doing more of the detailed work to make our home look welcoming. It’s a system that works best for us. We also strive to be done at the same time. That also works best for us!
Over-all, I’m trying my best not to put Steve into any type of “mind-reading” situation. This is difficult because I want my husband to “know” what I need. After-all, isn’t he my “soul-mate” and isn’t that what we expect of a soul-mate? Yes, but the reality is that only God is my true soul mate (and even HE wants me to voice my needs to Him). A spouse is just a fallible human being who loves us. Expecting a husband to see things from our perspective isn’t the real world, and it causes problems.
If you find yourself falling into this trap, readjust your thinking to reality. Respectfully tell your husband what you need from him, being careful of your timing and attitude while doing so. This will honor him and the Lord as well.
Marriage Tip for Men:
First of all, you’ll notice a difference in the amount of words I’ll use to give you my perspective, compared to my wife’s. It’s important to note that we think and communicate differently. It’s common for men to use fewer words in a day from women. That doesn’t mean that men are right and women are wrong in the way they communicate or that men are wrong and women are right —it’s just different because we are different!
But because we use fewer words it’s very important to make sure the words we speak to our wives are edifying, express our genuine love and appreciation for them, and addresses the needs that they feel and express. Don’t use the “fewer words” argument to be an excuse for not connecting with our wives as we should.
As husbands (and wives) we need to each stretch ourselves to meet each other’s communication needs. The quieter spouse can stretch to talk a bit more and the more verbal spouse can expect less verbal communication (and personally use fewer words so the other spouse isn’t flooded by the amount of words you use).
To piggyback on Cindy’s tip:
I found the best way to avoid misunderstanding and conflict when a project needs to be done is to simply ask her, “What is it that I can do for you right now that would be most helpful?” And then I do it! It’s not quantum physics. Yet it took me many years of frustration and friction before I discovered this technique. It works wonders in relieving the pressure our wives feel in this situation. And if their pressures are relieved, so is ours! Try it!
Also, please know that we have additional marriage articles on our web site here at Marriage Missions, as well.
The point in giving you these marriage tips is to help you to open your lines of communication. Learn to communicate as God would have you in your marriage, to reflect the love of Christ.
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel. Instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will“ (2 Timothy 2:23-26).
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God“ (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Have a blessed week working on your communication with each other in your marriage,
Steve and Cindy Wright
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